With divine blessings, a Gopa Kuteeram summer retreat was organized for the young minds of Houston Satsang from Jun 4th to Jun 6th . It was no doubt a great success as the kids (14 of them) took part actively in all the events and had great fun while doing it.
Thursday (Jun 4th) was the last day of school and their summer vacation was kicked off with this camp. One of the first spiritual events was the Dolotsav on Thursday night where all of them were taught the purpose of doing Dolotsav. The children had their favorite deity in their mind as they were lulling their ishta devta to sleep, singing kirtans from ‘Shyamala Sundara’ and many others finally ending in ‘Manikkam Katti’. The night ended when all the children retired to their own beds after playing some indoor games.
Friday was the day for activities! It started off with Prabodanam (waking up the Lord). The rest of the morning was spent in making posters of stories from Srimad Bhagavatam. The group was divided into three and they named themselves Team Krishna, Vishnu and Hanuman. Dhruva Charitra, Krishna Jananam, and Gajendra Moksham were briefly discussed with all three teams. Each team was then presented with written material (based on Sri Swamiji’s lectures). In the next one hour, the three teams picked one project each, did their research on the details of the story, discussed it among themselves, and potrayed the story on the poster. It was a combination of art work, creativity, and presentation while converying the message and moral of the story. The children then presented their work to the rest of the teams. Team Hanuman (Shivam, Kruthi, Harsha and Mukund) was elected the winner for their excellent depiction of Krishna Jananam. Team Krishna (Keerthana, Muktha, Vishnu Priya and Rani Patel) came in second.
Following lunch, a quiz based on basics of Sanatana Dharma, and Srimad Bhagavatam was conducted and Team Vishnu (Tejas, Karun, Vishnu Varadan, Dilan) won that competition easily. All the participants then engaged in singing Kirtans in the following order – Guru Bhajan, Satsang mahima, Nama mahima, Rama, Krishna and Hanuman bhajans. In addition to Sri Swamiji’s kirtans, the children also chipped in with some other kirtans. To close the session, Vrutrasura Chatushloki slokas from Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana were taught.
The next 2 hours involved an interactive group discussion leading to the preparation of the skit – ‘Yuge Yuge’. The greatness of Sanatana Dharma and why it is the most unique dharma in the world was the crux of the first half of the discussion. Then, the characteristics of each Yuga and the ways to attain the Lord were discussed at great length. The children prepared their own dialogues, and practiced the skit in preparation for presentation to the parents the next day..
After some outdoor fun, the Gopas and Gopis participated in the G.O.D weekly telecon satsang and chanted Nama, while Shivam Dave did the discourse on an episode from Ramcharitmanas.
Throughout the day, the ‘young-adults’ had noted down a few questions they had in mind, and at 9:30 in the night, a Q&A session with Sri Ramanujamji was organized via a conference call. All the children (and the adults!) who were fortunate enough to listen to the dialogue were thrilled to be a part of it. Ramuji’s clarity in response, eloquence, presence of mind, and follow up to ensure the kids understood the answers were all on display. Ramuji congratulated all for the participation and prayed for their success! The night ended with Dolotsav.
After Prabodanam the next morning, the group went to nearby Sri Meenakshi Temple and performed a ‘Nagara Sankirtan’ chanting the Mahamantra loudly around the periphery of the temple and inside each Sannidhi while walking as two neatly lines up groups – 1 for the boys and another for all the girls. The group received great appreciation, a cheerful welcome and a prasadam packed send-off by the temple priests who were visibly thrilled to see such active participation from the next generation. The sankirtan lasted about 45 minutes in total.
After the weekly GOD Satsang, the camp continued with the enactment of the skit ‘Yuge Yuge’, and Srimad Bhagavatam Project presentation to the parents. The event concluded with Mahamantra Kirtan. Finally, all the participants were given ‘certified Gopa/Gopi’ awards and Summer Assignments.
All the children who participated found it to be great experience and thoroughly enjoyed the program. The 48-hour retreat which was hosted by Sri Narayan Daveji of our Houston GOD Satsang at his residence Kailash Dham and Nishaji and Sriramji from our Houston GOD Satsang facilitated the program.